Don’t neglect yourself

Are you taking care of yourself as well as you might?


Don’t neglect yourself

Looking after number one may seem like a selfish attitude, but if you don’t, you’ll be in no state to look after anyone else, leadership coach and chartered psychologist Janey Howl explains.

You know that you’re not taking care of yourself if you:

  • React strongly to the unexpected and get irritable with your loved ones.
  • Suffer from disturbed sleep, constantly feel tried, and never wake up before the alarm clock.
  • Are often late, lose or mislay things, such as spectacles or car keys, and forget anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Crave substances such as caffeine, sugar or nicotine.
  • Use displacement activity – TV, newspapers, the internet, social media – to hide from people or problems, rather than purely for enjoyment.
  • Talk too quickly, and complete other people’s sentences but fail to finish your own.
  • Use statements like ‘I deserve it’ and ‘I’m worth it’ to justify retail therapy.
  • Feel guilty about relaxing, choosing to do what you ‘should’ do and not what you ‘want’ to do.
  • Find it hard to switch off, or focus on one thing for more than 10 minutes.
  • Act like your last priority is yourself.

To be your own best friend:

  • Start the day – every day – well. Get up 30 minutes earlier than you need to and spend the time in an enjoyable way – lingering over breakfast, reading the papers…
  • Write your favourite treats on slips of paper – lunchtime walk, doing the crossword, browsing old photos – fold them up and put them in a bowl. Pick out one piece of paper every morning, and make sure you do whatever the chosen treat is for that day.
  • Phone someone you care about for no reason other than to say, ‘Hello, I was thinking of you.’
  • Spend some time on your own every day.
  • Find 10 reasons to be grateful. ‘I am lucky because…’
  • Always take a lunch break.
  • Get outdoors and notice the beauty of nature.
  • Buy yourself a small affordable present: some flowers, a lipstick perhaps, or a magazine
  • Stop giving up wine, chocolate, TV soaps… enjoy simple pleasures, just not to excess.
  • Once a week, go to bed really early.
  • If you feel pressured, relax: take some deep breaths, or go for a walk. Slowing down reveals what’s really important.

Photograph: plainpicture/Johner